Cover Reveal: Love at First Slight

I am very happy to be able to share a cover reveal with you today ... a new Austenesque imagining, forthcoming in October ... and I love the cover! What do you think?


Cover Reveal- August 30, 2013

Genre: Fiction | Romance | Historical | Regency | Jane Austen Sequel
Publication Date: October 1, 2013

About the Book:

“It may not be universally acknowledged, but the unvarnished truth is that a young widow in possession of a good fortune is not necessarily in want of another husband.”

In this humorous, topsy-turvy Pride & Prejudice variation, all the gender roles are reversed. It is Mr. Bennet’s greatest wish to see his five sons advantageously married. When the haughty Miss Elizabeth Darcy comes to Netherfield with the Widow Devonport nee Bingley, speculation—and prejudice—runs rampant.

William Bennet, a reluctant and irreverent future reverend, catches Miss Darcy’s eye even though he is beneath her station. However, his opinion of her was fixed when she slighted him at the Meryton Assembly. As her ardour grows, so does his disdain, and when she fully expects to receive an offer of marriage, he gives her something else entirely ….


Product Pages:

Author’s Website:

Publisher Websites:

About the Author:

J. Marie Croft, a Nova Scotia resident and avid reader all her life, discovered Jane Austen's works later than others but made up for lost time by devouring the six novels and as many adaptations and sequels as she could find. In the midst of reading prodigious amounts of Austen-based fan-fiction, she realized, "Hey, I can do that." In her spare time, when not working at a music school or on a wooded trail enjoying her geocaching hobby, she listens to the voices in her head and captures their thoughts and words in writing. Her stories are light-hearted; and her motto is Miss Austen's own quote, "Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery." J. Marie Croft is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (Canada)
and admits to being "excessively attentive" to the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. She can be contacted at jmariecroft@gmail.com.


Blog Tour: King of Small Things

It's been a crazy summer, but fall is creeping into the picture and my first Peachtree blog tour stop of the season is today! So excited to share this adorable picture book with you, and after you check out my review swing by the main schedule and see what everyone else has to offer!

The King of Small Things
Bil Lepp & David T Wenzel (illustrator)
Peachtree, 2013

This book? So. Stinkin'. Adorable! I am a little in love with the illustrations. The colors, the style, the fact there are so many details and little "hidden" things tucked away -- without feeling cluttered or overworked. Lovely. (And there's a bit of a scavenger/"Look-&-Find" feel too, with things to look for on both end pages). The text? Equally as cute.

It's a tale of two kings: The King of Little Things, and King Normous. King Normous (such a fun name) is ... well, he's pretty much a big bully and wants to rule the world and have the largest kingdom ever! Which he almost succeeds in doing. But he forgot about the little things, and their kind King. So begins a campaign of sneakiness and deceit on behalf of Normous -- but he's no match for the faithfulness of the little things.

I love the lyrical nature of the text in some passages, specifically when describing and directly relating to the little things. A cute story, emphasizing the importance of even the littlest things, with beautiful illustrations, makes this a definite "must add" to the personal library.

Galley provided by publisher for review.


William Shakespeare's Star Wars

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily A New Hope
Ian Doescher
Quirk Books, 2013

Oh. Stars.
How do I love thee?

As a Literature major, I'm one of those people who actually likes Shakespeare. In fact, I sort of love him. I love the rhythm of the words, all the turns of phrase he added to the English language, I love the stories themselves. I've also come to terms with the fact that I am, without a doubt, a geek. And I love Star Wars (original theatrical releases of the original trilogy only, thanks!). So when I saw that Quirk Books was publishing Star Wars told a`la Shakespeare? I may have begged to be added to the review list.

How to describe this story, this reading experience ... The text is a play, so it's written with stage directions and pretty bare bones in terms of description and etcetera. There's much dialogue, and not a few monologues (true confession: I loved the monologues). The story is familiar and much loved. Seeing it told in a new way brings new life, new sparkle, to the story. And the characters. Maybe it's just the simple change in language, or maybe it's reading the words instead of watching it play out on screen, but it felt almost like a totally new experience. In truth, it felt as if I were reading any Shakespeare play: I knew what was coming, how it'd end, and who was ultimately the hero -- but I loved the reading of it anyway. Also, we all know I'm a huge Han Solo fan, and Doescher gave him some lines that made my heart. stop. As if Han needed to get any dreamier, give him a Shakespearian accent, and this girl's a goner. Sa-woon.

Book provided by publisher for review.


Mini Reviews

Okay, it's time for another installment of "mini reviews" ... these are books I read and enjoyed, but feel like just making "comments" on rather than an actual, full-fledged review. Thus, mini reviews.

Just One Day
Gayle Forman
Dutton, 2013

I've been hearing a lot of buzz about this one, especially as the release date for Just One Year gets closer, and when I saw it listed on the New Arrivals list for the library system, of course I snapped it up. And devoured it. Wow. Just wow.

Basic premise is the idea that one day can change your life, can change who are are. Allyson's one day was in Paris (as "Lulu"), with the beautiful and slightly mysterious Willem as her guide into "living spontaneously". What began as a quick foray into rebellion became so much more, as Allyson began to see another side of life. Another side of herself. Every day after became a struggle between who she was and who she can be. Ultimately, she begins a quest -- to rediscover the glimpses of the girl who wandered Paris, to find Lulu, and see if that girl could possibly be real, and also to find Willem.

The story's engrossing, and while it doesn't seem like anything that'd ever happen to me, it still felt almost possible. I think we can all relate to Allyson's quest to find herself, on some level we've all wondered who we really are, deep down inside. And when it ended, I was really, really glad that Just One Year is coming out this fall, to fill in all the missing pieces!

Book provided by my local library.

Marissa  Meyer
Feiwel and Friends, 2013

Even though I'm not a big robot girl, I enjoyed Cinder, the first installment in the Lunar Chronicles. It had twists and loops and interesting characters. I like Scarlet even better! Scarlet is a firecracker of a girl (must be the red hair), on a mission to find her missing grandmother. Enter Wolf (no lie), who is a fairly hunky mystery, and to whom Scarlet is strangely drawn. They begin a journey to Paris, in attempts to find Gran, and end up finding ... well, unexpected developments. Meanwhile, Cinder has managed to escape from prison, and has picked up a fellow inmate as first mate, Thorne. As they struggle to avoid recapture, their point of destination is finding Scarlet. Which they do, in a pivotal moment, and suddenly everyone is on one ship. And things get interesting. And then they stop. Leaving us hanging and waiting for Book Three, Cress, coming next spring. The agonies.

I loved Scarlet as a character, and as an added layer of complexity to the overall story. This is a series that is building steadily, gaining momentum as it gains details. We learn more of Cinder's backstory, and continue to discover just how messed up the Lunar Queen is (seriously, that woman is insane). Wolf is also a super interesting character, and I loved the tension and chemistry between he and Scarlet. As much as everything is building, I have very, very high hopes for Cress.

Book provided by my local library.

The Chance
Karen Kingsbury
Thorndike Press, 2013

I've never read a Karen Kingsbury book before, but read this at the insistence of a coworker. Wow ... what a story. She was right, it was what I needed to read at the moment.

Ellie and Nolan have been best friends since, forever. But when Ellie's world falls apart, and she discovers she's being whisked away from Georgia all the way to California, they make a pact. Writing each letters, telling the whole searing truth, they bury them beneath one of Savannah's old live oak trees and promise to come back, in eleven years, and read their words. It's a promise of hope, something to hold on to during the painful days of separation to come. Over the years, it becomes both a mocking reminder of things that once were, and maybe, just maybe, a half-prayer of what could be. Ellie's world is so very different from Nolan's, he's an NBA star with a public faith and the nation's attention; she's a single mother with so many hurts and half-healed scars she doesn't know what she believes anymore. But fate's a funny thing, and one thing leads to another until Ellie finds herself back in Savannah. Face-to-face with Nolan.

It's a beautiful story. A story of second chances (or third, or sixth). A story of hope. A story that, like my coworker said, will make you believe anything can happen. And the Savannah setting? Oh, be still my beating Southern heart.

Book provided by my local library.


The Fairest Beauty

The Fairest Beauty
Melanie Dickerson
Zondervan, 2013

I could swear I wrote and posted this review (I even remembering going back and changing the name, because I wrote it as "Sophia" half the time and "Sophie" the other half, grrr), but when I was updating my "Year's Links" page (the one that goes up in January, showcasing the year at a glance), I realized it wasn't even on that list. Oops! Not sure how that happened, but better late than never, right?

The Fairest Beauty is a semi-sequel to The Healer's Apprentice, in that it features the son(s) of Wilhelm and his Rose. While the "star" of the story is the mysterious beauty Sophie, who has no idea of her true identity or that she's bethrothed to Valten, I felt like it was as much Gabe's story. If not more. (Possibly I fell a little in love with him ...) When a dying old woman appears on the doorstep of Hagenheim Castle, claiming the long-thought-dead daughter and heiress of an also-thought-dead Duke, who happens to be the bethrothed of Valten, is really alive and in mortal danger, Wilhelm and Company form a plan of rescue. Unfortunately, Valten is laid up with a broken leg and the plan cannot be put in action until he's healed. So Gabe decides to just sneak away and rescue Sophie himself. Because everyone is always flaunting Valten's valiance, and Gabe feels forgotten and misunderstood. Or something. His rescue begins as an act of familial rebellion, but turns into so much more once he meets Sophie - and Duchess Ermengard.

What happens next is fairly standard "Snow White" fare: they run away from the "wicked witch" and find refuge in The Cottage of the Seven, wherein seven "outcasts" demonstrate amazing love and acceptance, hiding and healing Sophie and Gabe. But the witch finds them, attempts to destroy the happy hideaway, and meets an unfortunate demise. The story is basic and familiar. The characters, and historical (rather than fantasy) setting, make it breathe. Sophie is, admittedly, a little "too perfect" -- but she's Snow White, who is perhaps one of the most painfully perfect princesses in fairy tale-land. She does however have the very human quality of doubt; all her life she's been belittled and lied to, and for her to grow to accept the truths surrounding her is a HUGE thing. Gabe and the Seven play a large role in this transformation, and Sophie is a more likeable version of Snow White than most. Now, Gabe. Oh Gabe ... He's headstrong, impetuous and stubborn. He fights first, asks questions later, and is a general, all-around Dude. I love him. And I love that so much of this story is the story of his transformation and growth. He matures and develops into quite the perfect "Prince Charming," but still seems so ... real.

A lovely addition to Dickerson's fairy tale series, and quite possibly my favorite offering so far. I'm also very intrigued by the upcoming release The Captive Maiden, which will star Valten.

Book provided by author for review.


Revenge Wears Prada

 Revenge Wears Prada
Lauren Weisberger
Simon & Schuster, 2013

I loved this book so much more than I thought I would. It's better than The Devil Wears Prada, by a long shot. (You should know: I bailed on Devil because it was getting on my nerves. I love-love-love the movie, but the book got to be too much. I also bailed on Everyone Worth Knowing, because it felt like a repeat of Devil, just a different industry). But Revenge Wears Prada, now there's a story!

Revenge picks up about ten years after the events of Devil. Andy and Emily are now best friends and business partners (there's a shocker!), running the super hot wedding magazine The Plunge. As the book opens, it's Andy's wedding day - marrying investment golden boy and heartthrob son of one of New York's leading familes, Max Harrison. Everything is a fairy tale, better than a fairy tale because this is real life. Then Andy finds a letter to Max from his mother, and her world rattles on its axis. She pushes through, makes the wedding happen, and decides she can handle this. She must. So why is she so sick over things that may mean nothing at all? (Who doesn't see where this is going?) As if all these huge - and a little unexpected - life changes weren't enough to handle, Miranda Priestly waltzes back into Andy's life. While Emily is ecstatic that Miranda wants to buy their magazine, Andy is distraught. It's as if her worst nightmare came true, and nobody understands why she doesn't want to be back in Miranda's control again. Not even Max. Especially not Max, who views it as the ultimate sign of success. As the drama and tension builds, Andy is forced to make some really big, really tough decisions.

I really feel like Revenge is a more balanced story than Devil, and I love the way Andy really grows and matures. She's human and perhaps a little dramatic at times, but she's real. She's growing. She knows what she wants, and what she doesn't want, and when the time comes she makes the tough decisions that make her happiest. And of course, all things work out as they should in the long run.

Book provided by my local library.


The Elite

 The Elite
Kiera Cass
HarperCollins, 2013

Remember The Selection? I liked that much more than I expected I would, getting drawn into the complicated competition to chose the next Princess. I fell in love with Prince Maxon, got supremely annoyed with Aspen, and alternately cheered and groaned over America's choices. Good times. The Selection process is over, and now only the Elite remain. These six girls are so much closer to being Prince Maxon's bride, and changing their families' lives forever. America is one of those six.

I enjoyed The Elite as much as The Selection, and read it crazy fast. It's one of those stories you get really drawn into, and it takes twists and turns you don't always see coming. The tensions are rising, both among the remaining Elite girls and in general (kingdom unrest, rebels making statements, you know the drill). I just ... yeah. This book ... the way this is developing, and the surprises coming out of left field. The love, the agony, the hurts and joys. This stuff is real, y'all. I don't want to give away too much -- you really need to read this one through yourself, because there are some HUGE plot developments. I will tell you this, if by the end of the book you haven't formed strong opinions about the characters, then you are a lucky person. Ha! I kid, sort of. Maybe not. I got rather annoyed with America during The Elite -- she's wavering, waffling, being incredibly undecided and changing her mind every time her companion/setting changes. I believe in this girl, I believe she can do great things and she does have a heart of gold -- but she's got to stop falling prey to smooth words and the stranglehold of memories. She can hear what's in her heart, she knows what she wants to see changing in the Kingdom, and it's in her power to make stuff happen ... if she'd be brave and believe in herself the way I believe in her. The way Maxon believes in her.

Despite the love triangle-aspect becoming a much bigger deal in this middle book, I'm desperately waiting for the final installment (The One!). I'm totally a Team Maxon girl, and want to be Team America too -- if she'll just grow up already. It's an intense story, in a crazy-different world, and I find myself somewhat addicted. (And it's still gonna take William Moseley to make me like Aspen, if not someone with even more heft).

Book provided by my local library.